A new canopy in Camden Market, located beside the Grade II* Listed Horse Hospital, on a prominent urban corner along Chalk Farm Road
The Camden Market Canopy hosts a new bar that is perched alongside a Grade II* Listed Horse Hospital and a railway. The lightweight structure has been delicately positioned above the historic built fabric of the Stables Market, on the corner of two busy streets. The design draws on the heritage of its location, with an undulating steel pattern, and acts as crown, signalling North London’s newest hotspot.
The canopy sits within the Regents Canal Conservation Area and is immediately adjacent to the Grade II* Listed Horse Hospital. From afar, the façade reads as a series of urban rhythms reflecting a busy street; from close up, it is possible to decipher abstracted horse heads in the façade. Bespoke V-shaped ‘horse-head-like’ columns, inspired by stable design, are capped with ‘ear-like’ semi-circular roof profiles, inspired by an adjacent rose window.
As the canopy follows the curve of the site, it creates a variety of spaces– thin/wide, covered/open– leading people across the constrained site to the open terrace beside the railway.
The bespoke V-shaped metalwork that supports the roof structure acts as a playful reference to the triangular openings in stables that are used to allow horses to poke their heads out for feeding. These gaps now supply views out to the busy nightlife that takes place in the streets below. Between the openings, a series of vertical grills take their cues from the historic Horse Hospital, which uses the device to subdivide spaces while still maintaining openness and transparency. These V-shaped columns are thin in profile like ribbons, and create a sense of lightness for the structure.
The column arrangement adopts the rhythm of the existing piers of the retaining wall below, while the roof rhythm responds to the massing of buildings behind, flattening out in front of the Horse Hospital to register its presence. Details such as the ribbed texture of the canopy’s datum line allude the decorative dentils on the Horse Hospital.
Evolution of horse head structure
This development forms part of an emerging streetscape beside a new masterplan for the Camden Goods Yard. The existing enclave of brick buildings was created to service the Victorian railway that sprang up in Camden as it became a mecca for the transportation of goods. This also meant that hundreds of horses were needed to help with the hustle and bustle of nineteenth century life, and therefore the stables and Horse Hospital became their home. The area has since radically changed but this history has supplied inspiration for the new bar.
The structure is designed as pre-fabricated modular steel components which are bolted together on site. This means it can be disassembled and assembled elsewhere in the future if required.
The complexity of the site – a long, narrow, irregular-shaped platform which doesn’t have a single straight line or level surface – benefited from a systematic approach to ensure buildability. The metal structure is bolted together on site and has a black patina finish, in keeping with the existing architectural language of Camden Market.
The new canopy is offset from the historic walls so it is designed as an independent structure, minimising its impact on the existing site. As a result, the canopy is legible as a new layer of history on the site.
The canopy draws people up onto the terrace from the street, and activates this historic site by providing a new cultural gathering space in north London, with panoramic views of Camden.